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Impact of International Collaborative Engineering Education Upon the Epistemological Development of Chinese Engineering Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.885.1 - 26.885.14



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Paper Authors


Qunqun Liu Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Qunqun Liu is a graduate student at the Graduate School of Education in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She obtained a B.S. in public administration from China Agricultural University. Her current interest focuses on the cognitive development of engineering graduate and undergraduate students, the assessment of teaching and learning in graduate education.

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Jiabin Zhu Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Jiabin Zhu is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her primary research interests relate to the assessment of teaching and learning in engineering, cognitive development of graduate and undergraduate students, and global engineering. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Engineering Education, Purdue University in 2013.

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Bo Yang

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Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, China

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Impact of International Collaborative Engineering Education upon the Epistemological Development of Chinese Engineering StudentsInternational collaboration has become a global trend. To facilitate global educationand research collaboration, Chinese universities have launched multiple initiatives ininternational collaboration in higher education, especially in engineering education(Altbach, 2009; Fazackerley 2007; Zhang, 2011).International collaboration in engineering education has provided students withexposure to advanced pedagogical methods, contact with world-class professors, andopportunities to study in an international learning environment (Shulman, 2005;Maillacheruvu, 2014; McNeill, 2010). For example, Sino-French Engineer Schoolthat was jointly established by Beihang University and Groupe des Ecoles Centraleshas adopted case-based teaching and problem-based learning pedagogical methods topromote students’ creative thinking, innovative skills, adaptability, etc. University ofMichigan (UM)-Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) Joint Institute, functioning asan independent unit for engineering education within SJTU, strives to preparestudents for a global work place by engaging students in state-of-the-art researchprojects and cross-cultural internship opportunities (Xiong, 2012; Zhang, 2011). Insum, these types of international collaborative programs offer students with diverselearning experiences and international experience.Despite the wide scope of international collaboration in engineering education,currently the assessment of these efforts focuses on students’ academic performanceor extracurricular experience. Students’ high level of thinking or their personalepistemology was rarely investigated. Considering the potential influences on one’sepistemic thinking through diverse learning experiences (xx, 2013), and consideringthe critical role of personal epistemology in guiding students’ learning strategies(Hofer and Pintrich, 1997), it is useful to understand the impact of internationalcollaborative engineering education on students’ epistemological development.In this study, we try to understand students’ personal epistemological development inan international collaborative engineering educational program in China. In particular,we focus on exploring the impact of different international collaborative educationalmeasures on students’ epistemological development. Students from differentengineering disciplines within the program were recruited. A 49-item survey that wasdeveloped and validated in the context of an epistemological development theory (xx,2013) was administered among over 500 students. Follow-up interviews wereperformed among selected students to explore potential factors in the program thatwere related with students’ epistemological development.Preliminary results suggested that multiple innovative educational measures andpractices adopted by the program were associated with students’ epistemologicaldevelopment. Our findings offer insights as to possible impact of different educationalinnovations on engineering students’ epistemological development, which will bebeneficial for future design and undertaking of different educational measures andpractices.ReferencesAltbach, P.G. (2009). One-third of the globe: The future of higher education in Chinaand India. Prospects, 39(1), 11-31. doi: 10.1007/s11125-009-9106-1Fazackerley, A. (2007). British universities in China: The reality beyond the rhetoric.Agora: the Forum for Culture and Education. Retrieved on Oct 18, 2014 from:, B.K., Pintrich, P.R. (1997). The development of epistemological theories:Beliefs about knowledge and knowing and their relation to learning. Review ofEducational Research, 67(1), 88-140.Maillacheruvu, K.Y. (2014). Impact of international collaboration on the learningenvironment. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education.McNeill, N.J. (2010). Global engineering education programs: More than justinternational experiences. Retrieved from Proquest, Purdue University.Randall, D.C., Moore, C., Carvalho, I.S. (2012). An international collaboration topromote inquiry-based learning in undergraduate engineering classrooms. Campus --Wide Information Systems, 29(4), 259-271. doi: 10.1108/10650741211253859Zhang, S.S. (2011). Introducing innovation stepping into the first-class engineeringeducation reform at UM-SJTU Joint Institute. Higher Engineering Education(2), 16-26.Shulman, L.S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52-59.Xiong, Z., Yu, L.M., Xu, P. Interpretation of french engineer diploma educationaccreditation and case analysis. Higher Engineering Education(5), 77-83.XX. (2013). Removed for blinded review.

Liu, Q., & Zhu, J., & Yang, B. (2015, June), Impact of International Collaborative Engineering Education Upon the Epistemological Development of Chinese Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24222

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